- Dynamic new styling with an aggressive front end
- Upmarket interior and fully loaded with a new infotainment system
- Smooth hybrid technology and economical running costs
- High-end models are fairly expensive
- There is quite a lot of technical data that can be a bit mind-blowing at first
- The driver’s over-the-shoulder visibility is obscured by wide pillars
Lexus launched its original NX SUV back in 2014 and it has proven to be the company’s best-selling model in the UK amassing more than 27,000 sales.
Now, there is an all-new NX and it’s very fresh with 95 per cent new parts – that makes this much more than a mild make-over.
The NX 450h+ is also the first PHEV to come from Lexus (although Toyota has tried and tested models within the TGB Group), offering class-leading performance and efficiency.
There is also a hybrid NX 350h model, but the PHEV version is the really big news here.
On The Road
Boasting all-new electrified powertrains with class-leading performance, the latest NX is available either in 350h guise with the fourth-generation Lexus hybrid system delivering 241bhp, or as we tested, the company’s first every plug in-hybrid EV set-up.
This NX 450h+ model features a four cylinder 2.5-litre petrol engine with a 134kW front electric motor, a 40kW rear electric motor, a hybrid transaxle and an 18.1kWh lithium-ion battery.
This system produces a maximum 305bhp which results in a 0-62mph sprint time of 6.3 seconds. It can also offer between 43 and 47 miles of pure electric driving at speeds of up to 83mph.
There are four drive modes for the plug-in hybrid electric system. EV mode is the default setting meaning the NX runs purely on electric power until the range is depleted. The Auto EV/HV mode automatically brings the hybrid engine into play when added power is needed. The driver can also select HV mode to maximise the most efficient driving while saving battery charge for when EV miles may be needed such as Congestion Charge zones. And finally, there is a Battery charging mode that replenishes the EV range.
In addition, there are drive modes to alter the reactions of the NX called Normal, Eco, Sport and Trail which are fairly self-explanatory.
The acceleration out the blocks is instant and the NX has ample power to quickly reach 70mph on motorways where it cruises effortlessly.
The automatic transmission is beautifully smooth and there are steering wheel-mounted paddles for added fun. Special mention to the perfectly weighted steering that offered bundles of driver feedback.
The NX also boasts Lexus E-Four all-wheel drive for added grip in more adverse driving conditions.
The NX is a fully-sized SUV so feels quite large when fizzing through the narrow country lanes. But in its defence, it is beautifully balanced with excellent grip through tighter bends. And body sway is kept to a minimum unless curves are attacked a little too keenly. The ride quality also impresses with nicely cushioned suspension smoothing out bumps and dips along the way.
The great all-round handling is partly down to the NX being built on the Lexus Global Architecture K (GA-K) platform which has resulted in a lower centre of gravity, an increase in the front and rear tracks and improved front to rear weight balance.
There are also new braking, steering and suspension systems which all contribute to a more refined performance. In addition, the F Sport models feature Adaptable Variable Suspension offering finer damping adjustment and smoother responses to changing road surfaces with Normal and Sport settings depending on the Drive Mode selected.
The new Trail mode is standard across the NX range currently available in the UK and this helps to prevent any wheel spin when driving on loose or rough surfaces such as gravel tracks. Extra torque is directed to the non-spinning wheels for added traction.
The new Lexus NX 450h certainly has plenty of road presence with full-sized SUV proportions. Design cues include curved surfaces, sharp angles and dynamic proportions to express agility.
There is the hallmark Lexus spindle grille that has a more upright position to improve airflow into the engine compartment. It features a new mesh pattern with a three-dimensional appearance. There are high grade LED headlights, with Lexus’ first slim adaptative high beam system and L-shaped daytime running lights.
At the back, there are L-shaped all-LED light clusters, a signature light blade spanning the width of the car and the LEXUS name replaces the company emblem on the tailgate.
The car is available in 11 colours and F Sport versions, as tested, have 20-inch alloys with a 10-spoke design.
The NX is the first Lexus model to feature the new Tazuna driver’s cockpit concept. This has been designed to maximise the time the driver has their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road. It sounds simple, but many models feature over-complicated infotainment systems that are a real distraction on the move.
That’s not the case in the NX where the cockpit is very driver-focused with clear multi-media displays, gauges and a head-up display that can be read at a glance.
In addition, the number of switches has been reduced from 75 to 45 but physical buttons have been kept for the most frequently used functions.
Top quality leather upholstery, along with high-end fixtures and fittings, help give the NX a truly premium feel.
In The Car
Behind the Wheel
Getting a comfortable driving position is a simple process inside the new Lexus NX with powered seats and a fully adjustable steering wheel. Memory settings mean you can store your favourite settings.
The seats can be heated or ventilated and the steering wheel can be warmed against the winter chill too.
There is a wealth of on-board technology to get stuck into, including the Lexus Link Pro multimedia system with a four-year connected services subscription included. This introduces cloud-based navigation as standard which means the sat nav is always online to provide up-to-date traffic information and details of any accidents or events that may cause delays.
There is a 14-inch high-definition touchscreen, a seven-inch driver information binnacle, plus full smartphone connectivity via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth, dual zone climate control and plenty more besides.
The touch tracer controls on the steering wheel are easy to use and they allow the driver to change or update the multi-media display without taking their eyes from the road.
There are high-end, premium features at every turn, including a pitch perfect Mark Levinson surround sound system with 17 speakers
In addition, there is a new voice recognition system with a personal assistant that is brought to life by speaking the magic “Hey Lexus” password. If for example, you say you are hungry, the system will offer a list of nearby restaurants. It can be used to close the windows, find a radio station etc. and it recognises 19 different languages.
Space & Practicality
At 4,660mm the overall length of the new NX has grown by 20mm and the wheelbase has increased by 30mm. The width has increased by 20mm to 1,865mm and the car is 5mm higher at 1,670mm.
It would be fair to say the NX is a large SUV with bundles of room in the back for a trio of passengers. With the rear seats occupied, the boot can swallow 545 litres of luggage and that capacity increases to a very respectable 1,436 litres with the 60:40 split-folding rear seats dropped flat.
There is a side storage net to stop items rolling around and a lightweight folding tonneau cover has a dedicated storage space in the boot floor when not in use. The boot is accessed via a powered tailgate that opens faster than on previous models, taking just four seconds. The opening height can also be set and there is a kick sensor beneath the rear bumper to open the boot handsfree – this is really convenient when approaching the car laden with shopping bags.
Inside the cabin, there is a central cubby beneath the front armrest, deep door bins, front and rear cup holders, a wireless charging pad, seat back pockets and a lockable glovebox to store bits and pieces.
And with family adventures in mind, the vehicle also has a braked towing capacity of 1.5 tonnes. The unbraked limit is still to be confirmed.
When it comes to charging, the NX 450h+ takes around 2.5 hours using a 230V/32A connection and the 6.6kW on-board charger.
Although our test car was left hand drive and featured German plates, it was very close to the NX 450h+ Plug-in Hybrid F Sport with Premium Pack model which is priced from £54,800.
The line-up starts at £38,300 for the NX 350h model which is available in trim levels called NX, F Sport and Takumi with the option to add a Premium Pack and Premium Plus Pack to certain trim levels.
The NX 450h+ range is priced from £48,800 and rises to £57,800 with customers offered trims called NX premium Pack, NX Premium Pack Plus, F Sport, F Sport Takumi Pack and range-topping Takumi.
When it comes to running costs, the NX 450h+ as tested, has combined fuel efficiency of 256.8-313.9mpg (WLTP) and carbon emissions of 20-26g/km. The EV-only driving range is 43 miles.
The low CO2 figure would mean the first year Vehicle Excise Duty charge is free followed by a standard annual fee of £145.
However, as the car costs more than £35,000 it does not benefit from the Government Plug-in Car Grant of £2,500.
The insurance groups for the new NX line-up are yet to be announced.
Quality & Reliability
Lexus is a company that enjoys an excellent reputation when it comes to reliability and the years of hybrid expertise at both Lexus and Toyota is second to none.
The first generation NX was getting a little dated, especially the over-complicated infotainment system. But Lexus has certainly addressed that issue and the new system is faster, more intuitive and easier to operate on the fly.
It is a recognised fact that many Lexus customers return to the brand time and time again which is the best compliment the company can be given.
The build quality feels exceptionally high with top quality leather upholstery that not only looks the business, but also feels like it will survive the test of time.
The NX comes with a three-year, 60,000-mile warranty. This also includes a five-year, 60,000-mile cover for hybrid components.
For added peace of mind, customers can sign up to Lexus Relax. This is an extended warranty scheme that can add up to 10 years warranty free of charge provided the car is serviced through approved Lexus centres.
Safety & Security
The latest second-gen Lexus NX has yet to be tested for its Euro NCAP safety rating, but the car is jam packed with safety features and driver assistance systems to help protect occupants and other road users.
The car also debuts an e-latch system which will be very good news for cyclists out there. It is an electronic door release that replaces the traditional handle and is positioned next to the armrest. The door can be opened in a smooth simple manner, but it incorporates a Safe Exit Assist function that prevents the doors being opened into the path of vehicles or cyclists that are passing.
This is one of a wealth of safety features with the third generation of Lexus Safety Systems+ included as standard. There is an improved Pre-Collision System that can detect significantly more risk scenarios and this comes with Emergency Steering Assist built in. Other features are Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Lane Keep Assist, Lane Trace Assist, Road Sign Assist and Automatic High Beam.
There is a digital rearview mirror, Traction Control, Vehicle Stability Control, All-wheel Drive along a Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert and a full suite of airbags.
An Anti-theft system complete with alarm, intrusion, tilt and glass breakage sensors, plus an engine immobiliser will keep any thieves at bay.
There’s no denying the expertise Lexus brings to any hybrid technology with decades of know-how to draw upon. This may be its first PHEV model, but it ticks all the right boxes when it comes to style, handling, technology and efficiency.